Former England defender Jonathan Woodgate has been handed the task of giving home-town club Middlesbrough a new identity after replacing Tony Pulis as head coach.
The 39-year-old, who served as Pulis’ first-team coach, has signed a three-year contract following the Welshman’s departure at the end of last season.
He will be assisted by former Leeds and Tottenham team-mate Robbie Keane, who will combine his role with a similar position working under Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy.
“We want to get fans on the edge of their seat. We want as many fans back in the stadium as we can by playing attacking, exciting football” 🗣️💬 #UTB
— Middlesbrough FC (@Boro) June 14, 2019
A club statement said: “Middlesbrough Football Club are delighted to confirm that Jonathan Woodgate will head up a new-look senior coaching team.
“Jonathan has been appointed as the club’s new head coach and has agreed a three-year contract.
“Our former captain will be joined by his ex-Leeds and Tottenham team-mate, and current Republic of Ireland assistant manager Robbie Keane, Leo Percovich, who was previously on the coaching staff at the club from 2013-2017, and one-time Boro man Danny Coyne, as goalkeeping coach.
“There was huge interest in the coaching positions following the departure of Tony Pulis and in a robust process the club spoke with a number of potential candidates both in the UK and abroad.
“It was during this procedure that it became clear that Jonathan was the outstanding candidate to head up the new structure, and his staff bring a wealth of experience and knowledge.
“Jonathan’s vision is very much aligned to our own for the club as we look to develop a new identity.”
Woodgate’s challenge is to end Boro’s exile from the Premier League after they missed out on promotion for the second successive season following their return to the Sky Bet Championship at the end of the 2016-17 campaign, the club’s only Premier League season since 2008-09.
Chairman Steve Gibson took his time in identifying the right man for the job, but ultimately opted – not for the first time – to appoint a young, ambitious coach.
He did just that in 2006 when he asked then Boro defender Gareth Southgate to replace Steve McClaren at the helm, and what the current England boss learned during his time in charge at the Riverside Stadium provided the foundation for his role with the national team.
Gibson also handed first chances in management to McClaren, who guided the club to its first major trophy, the 2004 Carling Cup, and to the 2006 UEFA Cup final, as well as Spaniard Aitor Karanka, the man who led Boro to promotion in 2016.
Woodgate made a total 112 appearances for Boro in two spells in a glittering career, albeit one plagued by injury, which also included spells at first club Leeds, Newcastle, Real Madrid and Stoke, as well as eight England caps.
Following his retirement in 2016, Woodgate took up a scouting role with Liverpool in Spain, but returned to Teesside in March 2017 to work under interim manager Steve Agnew.
He later took on a role with the club’s Under-18s before being elevated to the first-team ranks once again.